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Hyde Park, Chicago

Coordinates: 41°48′N 87°35.4′W / 41.800°N 87.5900°W / 41.800; -87.5900
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Hyde Park
Community Area 41 – Hyde Park
Hyde Park in Chicago
Hyde Park in Chicago
The official Hyde Park community area (bold black) and the unofficial Hyde Park-Kenwood neighborhood extending into the official Kenwood community area (thin black).
The official Hyde Park community area (bold black) and the unofficial Hyde Park-Kenwood neighborhood extending into the official Kenwood community area (thin black).
Location of Hyde Park in Chicago
Location of Hyde Park in Chicago
Coordinates: 41°48′N 87°35.4′W / 41.800°N 87.5900°W / 41.800; -87.5900
CountryUnited States
 • Total1.65 sq mi (4.27 km2)
 • Total29,456
 • Density18,000/sq mi (6,900/km2)
Demographics (2020)[1]
 • White47.0%
 • Black24.4%
 • Asian14.2%
 • Hispanic7.5%
 • Other6.9%
Educational Attainment 2018[1]
 • High School Diploma or Higher96.77%
 • Bachelor's Degree or Higher75.00%
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
parts of 60615 and 60637
Median household income 2020$52,423[1]
Source: U.S. Census, Record Information Services

Hyde Park is a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, located on and near the shore of Lake Michigan 7 miles (11 km) south of the Loop. It is one of the city’s 77 municipally recognized community areas.

Hyde Park’s boundaries and subdivisions have several local definitions. The community area’s formal boundaries are 51st Street (signed locally as Hyde Park Boulevard) on the north, Midway Plaisance on the south, Washington Park on the west, and Lake Michigan on the east.[2] Another local definition considers a section to the north between 47th Street[3] and Hyde Park Boulevard to be in Hyde Park, although this area is, according to municipal boundaries, the southern half of the Kenwood community area. As such, it is often called “South Kenwood.” Hyde Park and South Kenwood are also sometimes collectively termed “Hyde Park-Kenwood” (as in the name of the epoynmous Historic District, for example). Meanwhile, the portion of Hyde Park that lies between the Illinois Central Railroad tracks and the lake is usually referred to as “East Hyde Park” and is usually also taken to include “Indian Village,” the small southeastern corner of Kenwood.[4]

Hyde Park is home to the University of Chicago and a large number of seminaries: Catholic Theological Union, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, McCormick Theological Seminary, and Chicago Theological Seminary. The Griffin Museum of Science and Industry and two of Chicago's four historic sites listed in the original 1966 National Register of Historic PlacesChicago Pile-1, the world's first artificial nuclear reactor, and Robie House—are also in the neighborhood.[5] In the early 21st century, Hyde Park received national attention for its association with U.S. President Barack Obama, who, before running for president, was a Senior Lecturer for twelve years at the University of Chicago Law School, an Illinois state senator representing the area, and U.S senator from Illinois.[6][7] The Barack Obama Presidential Center is currently under construction in Jackson Park, which borders Hyde Park.[8]



Founding and early years

Engraving of the Hyde Park Water Works, 1882

In 1853, Paul Cornell, a real estate speculator and cousin of Cornell University founder Ezra Cornell, purchased 300 acres (1.2 km2) of land[9] between 51st and 55th streets along the shore of Lake Michigan,[10] with the idea of attracting other Chicago businessmen and their families to the area.[9] The land was located seven miles south of Downtown Chicago in a rural area that enjoyed weather tempered by the lake – cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It was conveniently located near the Illinois Central Railroad, which had been constructed two years earlier. Cornell successfully negotiated land in exchange for a railroad station at 53rd Street. Hyde Park quickly became a suburban retreat for affluent Chicagoans who wanted to escape the noise and congestion of the rapidly growing city.

In 1857, the Hyde Park House, an upscale hotel, was built on the shore of Lake Michigan near the 53rd Street railroad station.[9] For two decades, the Hyde Park House served as a focal point of Hyde Park social life. During this period, it was visited or lived in by many prominent guests, including Mary Todd Lincoln, who lived there with her children for two and a half months in the summer of 1865 (shortly after her husband was assassinated).[11] The Hyde Park House burned down in an 1879 fire. The Sisson Hotel was built on the site in 1918 and was eventually converted into a condominium building (the Hampton House).

In 1861, Hyde Park was incorporated into an independent township (called Hyde Park Township). Its boundaries were Pershing Road (39th Street) on the north, 138th Street on the south, State Street on the west, and Lake Michigan and the Indiana state line on the east.[12] The territory of the township encompassed most of what is now the South Side of Chicago. Hyde Park Township remained independent of Chicago until it was annexed to the city in 1889.[13] After annexation, the definition of Hyde Park as a Chicago neighborhood was restricted to the historic core of the former township, centered on Cornell's initial development between 51st and 55th streets near the lakefront.

The Hyde Park Herald, the neighborhood's community newspaper, was established in 1882 and continues to be published weekly.

Growth and notability

In 1893, the World's Columbian Exposition was held in Hyde Park and Woodlawn.

In 1891, two years after the city of Chicago annexed Hyde Park,[9] the University of Chicago was established in the neighborhood through the philanthropy of John D. Rockefeller and the leadership of William Rainey Harper.[10]

In 1893, Hyde Park hosted the World's Columbian Exposition (a world's fair marking the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World). The World's Columbian Exposition brought fame to the neighborhood, which gave rise to an inflow of new residents and spurred new development that gradually started transforming Hyde Park into a more urban area. However, since most of the structures built for the fair were temporary, it left few direct traces in the neighborhood. The only major structure from the fair that is still standing today is Charles Atwood's Palace of Fine Arts, which has since been converted into the Museum of Science and Industry.

In the early decades of the twentieth century, many upscale hotels were built in Hyde Park (mostly along the lakefront). Hyde Park became a resort area in Chicago.[10] Most of these hotels closed during the Great Depression, and were eventually converted into apartment and condominium buildings (most of which are still standing today).

Historical images of Hyde Park can be found in Explore Chicago Collections, a digital repository made available by Chicago Collections archives, libraries and other cultural institutions in the city.[14]

Racial integration, economic decline, and urban renewal


Until the middle of the twentieth century, Hyde Park remained an almost exclusively white neighborhood (despite its proximity to Chicago's Black Belt). Hyde Parkers relied on racially restrictive covenants to keep African Americans out of the neighborhood. At the time, the use of such covenants was supported by the University of Chicago.[15]

After the Supreme Court banned racially restrictive covenants in 1948, African Americans began moving into Hyde Park, and the neighborhood gradually became multiracial. In 1955, civil rights activist Leon Despres was elected alderman of Hyde Park and held the position for twenty years.[16] Despres argued passionately for racial integration and fair housing on the floor of the Chicago City Council, and became known as the "liberal conscience of Chicago" for often casting the sole dissenting vote against the policies of Chicago's then-mayor Richard J. Daley.[17]

During the 1950s, Hyde Park experienced economic decline as a result of the white flight that followed the rapid inflow of African Americans into the neighborhood.[10] In the 1950s and 1960s, the University of Chicago, in its effort to counteract these trends, sponsored one of the largest urban renewal plans in the nation.[18][19] The plan involved the demolition and redevelopment of entire blocks of supposedly decayed buildings with the goal of creating an "interracial community of high standards."[20] After the plan was carried out, Hyde Park's average income soared by seventy percent, but its African American population fell by forty percent, since the substandard housing primarily occupied by low-income African Americans had been purchased, torn down, and replaced, with the residents not being able to afford to remain in the newly rehabilitated areas.[citation needed] The ultimate result of the renewal plan was that Hyde Park did not experience the economic depression that occurred in the surrounding areas and became a racially integrated middle-class neighborhood.[citation needed]


The southwestern part of Hyde Park serves as the campus of the University of Chicago

The University of Chicago


The central campus of the University of Chicago—including Pritzker School of Medicine, the University of Chicago Hospital, the historic Main Quadrangles, and the Booth School of Business—is bounded by Washington Park on the west, 55th Street on the north, University Ave. on the east, and 61st Street on the south, placing most of the University within Hyde Park's southwestern quadrant (with the remainder, south of the Midway, being in Woodlawn). The University also owns a number of additional properties throughout Hyde Park, with many concentrated along a narrow corridor along 59th Street between the central campus and the Metra tracks—including, for example, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and International House. Due to the University's proximity, the blocks just east of the central campus are dominated by (privately owned) student and faculty residences.

East Hyde Park

Looking east along South Shore Drive near 55th St. in Hyde Park (aka East Hyde Park)

The part of Hyde Park located east of the Metra tracks is locally called East Hyde Park. This area, the part of Hyde Park nearest to Lake Michigan, has a large number of high-rise condominiums, many of them facing the lakefront. Some of these condominiums are remnants of older hotels, like The Mayfair or Regents Park. In this respect, East Hyde Park differs markedly from the rest of Hyde Park, where the vast majority of residences are either three-story apartment buildings or single-family homes (with only a small number of high-rise condominiums).

South Kenwood


Although the neighborhood bounded by 47th Street on the north, 51st Street (Hyde Park Boulevard) on the south, Cottage Grove Avenue on the west, and Lake Michigan on the east is officially the southern half of the Kenwood community area, it is often considered part of Hyde Park due to the two areas' shared culture and history; "Hyde Park-Kenwood" is thus sometimes applied to this collective area (as in, e.g., the "Hyde Park-Kenwood Historic District"). Some differences are nonetheless apparent: unlike Hyde Park, which is dominated by three- and four-story apartment buildings and modest family homes, southern Kenwood boasts a great many luxurious mansions, built mainly at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries for wealthy Chicagoans. A number of prominent Chicagoans currently reside or own homes in this area, including former U.S. president Barack Obama and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Boxer Muhammad Ali and former Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad also once resided in south Kenwood.


Historical population


U.S. President Barack Obama has lived near Hyde Park for more than twenty years.

Hyde Park is a very racially diverse neighborhood. Its population is 47.6% White, 26.8% African American, 12.1% Asian American, 8.5% Hispanic, and 5.0% of other races or of more than one race.[1] There are some differences between the racial demographics of the part of Hyde Park south of 55th Street and the part of Hyde Park north of 55th Street. Residents south of 55th Street are predominantly White and Asian American, with a smaller percentage being African American or Hispanic. North of 55th Street, African Americans make up approximately half of the population and there's a larger percentage of Hispanics.[22] In 2000, Hyde Park was 45.8% White, 38.1% African American, 0.1% American Indian, 11.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 4.1% Hispanic, and 4.6% from other races or two or more races.[23]

Hyde Park's location in the center of the predominantly African American South Side as well as the neighborhood's large population of affluent and upper-middle class black residents have made it an important cultural and political hub of Chicago's black community. Many of Chicago's prominent African American politicians live or have lived in Hyde Park, including former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington;[24] former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, the first ever Black female U.S. senator;[25] and former U.S. President Barack Obama.[15]


Nuclear Energy, a sculpture by Henry Moore marking the site of Chicago Pile-1, the world's first nuclear reactor.

The following Hyde Park community area properties have been added to the National Register of Historic Places: Chicago Beach Apartments, Arthur H. Compton House, East Park Towers, Chicago Pile-1, Flamingo-on-the-Lake Apartments, Mayfair Apartments, Isadore H. Heller House, Charles Hitchcock Hall, Hotel Del Prado, Hotel Windermere East, Frank R. Lillie House, Robert A. Millikan House, Poinsettia Apartments, Promontory Apartments, Jackson Shore Apartments, Frederick C. Robie House, George Herbert Jones Laboratory, St. Thomas Church and Convent, Shoreland Hotel, German submarine U-505, and University Apartments.

In addition, the NRHP Hyde Park-Kenwood Historic District and Jackson Park Historic Landscape District and Midway Plaisance are located, at least in part, within the Hyde Park community area.



Promontory Point

A trail in Jackson Park

Promontory Point is an artificial peninsula that extends into Lake Michigan at 55th Street, providing views of the Downtown Chicago skyline to the north. Promontory Point is a common location for picnicking, sunbathing, and swimming. It made news as the location of the wedding reception between George Lucas and Mellody Hobson in June 2013. [26]

Jackson Park


The southeastern corner of Hyde Park contains the northern end of Jackson Park. Jackson Park consists of lagoons surrounding an island in the middle (called the Wooded Island), on which a small Japanese garden is located. It is home to a large population of beavers and over two dozen species of birds. The Midway Plaisance, a wide boulevard that runs from Stony Island Avenue to Cottage Grove Avenue between 59th and 60th streets, connects Jackson Park to Washington Park (located to the west of Hyde Park).

Jackson Park has been selected by the Obama Foundation as the site of the future Obama Presidential Center.[27]

Retail corridors

The courtyard of the Hyde Park Shopping Center

The shopping areas on 53rd, 55th, and 57th streets host most of the retail businesses in Hyde Park.

53rd Street


53rd Street is Hyde Park's oldest shopping district, lined with many small businesses and restaurants offering various dining options. Harper Court, a small-business-oriented shopping center, extends north of 53rd Street along Harper Avenue. A farmers' market is held there in the summer.

55th Street


The segment of 55th Street between the Metra line and the lake offers a series of ethnic restaurants serving Thai, Japanese, and Korean cuisine. To the west of the Metra line between 54th and 55th streets lies the Hyde Park Shopping Center.

57th Street


57th Street is noted for its independent bookstores. 57th Street also offers restaurants along with small grocery stores, hair stylists, and dry cleaners. On the first weekend in June, the venerable 57th Street Art Fair takes up 57th Street between Kimbark and Kenwood avenues.



Educational institutions


Churches and houses of worship




The Hyde Park community area has supported the Democratic Party in the past two presidential elections by overwhelming margins. In the 2016 presidential election, Hyde Park cast 10,479 votes for Hillary Clinton and 442 votes for Donald Trump (91.9% to 3.9%).[28] In the 2012 presidential election, Hyde Park cast 9,991 votes for Barack Obama and cast 651 votes for Mitt Romney (91.4% to 6.0%).[29]



By car, Hyde Park is easily accessed from Lake Shore Drive, which runs along the neighborhood's easternmost edge. The Dan Ryan Expressway and Chicago Skyway also lie within a short driving distance.

In terms of public transit, Hyde Park is served by eleven Chicago Transit Authority bus lines; Metra, Chicago’s commuter rail system; and the South Shore Line, an interurban passenger rail service that runs between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana. The latter two use the former Illinois Central Railroad’s embankment in East Hyde Park, near Lake Michigan.

The Metra Electric—which has three stations in the neighborhood (51st/53rd St./Hyde Park, 55th-56th-57th St., and 59th St./University of Chicago)—and the CTA’s #6 Jackson Park Express bus provide express service to the Loop from early morning to late night. The #2 Hyde Park Express and #28 Stony Island busses provide similar service during rush hours. Off-peak, however, the #2 does not run, while the #28 does so only to points south. CTA’s #10 Museum of Science and Industry route also provides express service to downtown, but only between Memorial and Labor Days and from one stop at the museum itself.

CTA’s #15 Jeffrey Local bus runs diagonally through Hyde Park, connecting the neighborhood to points south and to CTA's rapid transit system, the ”L”, at the Red and Green Lines' 47th and 51st St. stations, respectively. The #55 Garfield bus runs east-west through the neighborhood, also connecting it to the Red and Green Lines at their respective Garfield stations, and, ultimately, to Chicago's Midway Airport. The #4 Cottage Grove and #X4 Cottage Grove Express bus routes run north-south along Hyde Park's westernmost edge.

CTA also operates three bus routes in collaboration with the University of Chicago: #171 University of Chicago/Hyde Park, #172 University of Chicago/Kenwood, and #192 University of Chicago Hospitals Express. The #171 and #172 are local circulator routes that run on a reduced schedule during the summer, while the #192 runs during rush hours only to and from major rail stations in the Loop.

South Shore Line trains stops only at 55th-56th-57th St. They only board passengers southbound and discharge passengers northbound due to a non-compete agreement with Metra.

Notable people



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